Billboard’s Friday Music Guide serves as a handy guide to this Friday’s most essential releases — the key music that everyone will be talking about today, and that will be dominating playlists this weekend and beyond.
This week, Dua Lipa practices some magic, The Kid LAROI arrives with a new full-length, and PinkPantheress evolves her aesthetic. Check out all of this week’s picks below:
Dua Lipa, “Houdini”
While “Houdini,” which will kick off Dua Lipa’s third album era, arrives with plenty of anticipation, Lipa’s Barbie soundtrack single “Dance The Night” — which has blossomed into one of the bigger top 40 hits of 2023 — offered a subtle hint at the direction in which the 28-year-old is steering her discography. Future Nostalgia is both behind and in front of Lipa: she is tinkering with the edges of popular dance music, refining her pop stylings, doubling down on a successful sound while heightening its pressure points. “Houdini” is a one-listen blast, but it’s also a high-wire act, each second whirring with production tidbits that coalesce into a three-minute wallop.
Click here to read a full review of Dua Lipa’s new single.
The Kid LAROI, The First Time
Leading up to new album The First Time, The Kid LAROI has struck a variety of sonic poses and demonstrated an impressive versatility — it’s how his tone can work alongside an artist like Jung Kook on the pop track “Too Much,” sound comfortable spitting next to Future on “What’s The Move?,” or recall the acoustic alt-rock of breakout hit “Without You” on recent single “Bleed.” The constant within that artistry, however, remains his melodic instincts: LAROI is one of the most effortless hook-deployers in modern music, and The First Time is rife with hummable moments.
PinkPantheress, Heaven knows
In the middle of the track list of PinkPantheress’ new album is a song titled “Internet baby (interlude)” — which, at 2 minutes and 11 seconds, is actually longer than the mesmerizing Kelela collaboration “Bury me” that immediately precedes it. Such is the experimental approach to rhythmic pop that the British artist has adopted, and while Heaven knows plays with time and space, the 34-minute project boasts PinkPantheress’ most complete vision to date, the collaborations carefully curated and the solo tracks (particularly on the final stretch of the album) brimming with full-hearted observations.
Chris Stapleton, Higher
Chris Stapleton has been nominated for entertainer of the year at the CMA Awards in seven of the past eight years, a stat that showcases his consistency within country music over the last decade — and while Higher adds some new tricks to his bag, Stapleton’s latest is also sensible enough to spotlight the powerhouse voice and grounded storytelling that have been his calling cards for years. The strongest moments oscillate between amped-up energy, like the rollicking lead single “White Horse,” and gently delivered wisdom, like the soft, gorgeous “Trust.”
Rick Ross & Meek Mill, Too Good To Be True
The final song on Rick Ross and Meek Mill’s joint album Too Good To Be True is a remix of their single “Shaq & Kobe,” featuring Shaquille O’Neal and Damian Lillard rapping against each other; elsewhere, on “Go To Hell,” the pair operates over an audacious sample of Tears For Fears’ “Shout.” The two songs speak to the wily attitude of Ross and Meek on this deeply enjoyable Maybach Music Group production: after more than a decade of grinding out anthems separately and together, the two stars still possess a sense of urgency, but are taking more risks and generally having more fun with their crafts.
Editor’s Pick: Jonas Brothers feat. Bailey Zimmerman, “Strong Enough”
“Been a hell of a week, but we made it,” Bailey Zimmerman sings to open “Strong Enough,” the rising country star’s new team-up with the Jonas Brothers. That raised-glass declaration then leads into one of the JoBros’ more convincing genre crossovers to date: with a hook that recalls “Waffle House,” the standout track from this year’s The Album, Nick, Joe and Kevin conjure compelling country-pop, with Zimmerman as something of a sonic guide. “Strong Enough” should be your next TGIF anthem, and might point to a fruitful detour for Jonas Brothers’ future output.
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